Welcome!

Weblogic Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Michael Meiner, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal

Related Topics: Microservices Expo

Microservices Expo: Article

IaaS - Infrastructure as a Service a Threat or a Weapon?

A large part of the answer is a new concept in hardware and data storage known as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

With the proliferation of computers and data in the business world, it's time the IT department had a strategic weapon that will enable it to operate with the same flexibility as other departments and with more financial transparency. A large part of the answer is a new concept in hardware and data storage known as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Every year at budget time, IT executives play the same old guessing game. How much will the company grow in the coming year, and what IT assets will it need to support that growth? A mistake in either direction can be financially disastrous and career ending since companies are increasingly holding managers' feet to the fire about meeting their targets.
Guessing too high, based on sanguine business projections that may not pan out, or lack of good planning data burdens a company with expensive hardware that may sit underutilized or IT staff that may need to be downsized.

Guessing too low can mean a scramble midway through the year to squeeze existing inadequate computing and storage capacity to their limits, endangering the business's ability to sustain growth and creating an overwhelmed staff that may find it easier to seek employment elsewhere.

The many crucial jobs IT performs for a company are hard enough - provisioning employees and keeping their workstations up and running; protecting data to meet the stringent requirements imposed by Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, PCI, and other regulations; managing data recovery and business continuity; and so on. The risk of operating with inadequate resources or burning unnecessarily through corporate funds are unwelcome addenda to the IT department's burden.

Now imagine a world where you can scale your IT capacity up or down on command without any capital expenditure. Imagine knowing that all your data is safely backed up and can be restored in hours, even if it's totally wiped out. Imagine being able to free your highly skilled IT staff to work on value-added tasks such as development and planning, instead of chasing bugs and installing patches ad infinitum. And now, as the executive in charge of your IT division, imagine doubling your personal market value (read salary) as you free yourself from tactical concerns and build a path to fulfilling a more strategic corporate role than ever before.

This world exists. It's enabled by a new business concept based on virtualizing the IT environment and is called Infrastructure as a Service. IaaS extends the remote hosting concept of Software as a Service (SaaS) to hardware.

If IaaS is a fairly new concept to you let me provide a basic understanding. Fundamentally, IaaS provides IT resources - processing power, storage, data center space, services, compliance - on-demand, enabling IT to bill these services as a variable fixed cost.

The interest in IaaS can be attributed to significant increases in IT-enabled business models such as e-commerce, Web 2.0 and SaaS, which drive demand, and by advances in technology that enable it, including virtualization, utility computing, and data center automation.

Just-in-Time power and computing capacity sounds like a dream come true to many people, yet to others it might sound like a nightmare in which they lose control of their IT environment, or worse, become redundant themselves as computing tasks are offloaded to an outside supplier. In my (admittedly biased) opinion, IaaS can be viewed as the newest strategic weapon in the IT arsenal, rather than a threat.

Weapon 1: The IT Administrator Takes a More Strategic Role
According to Forrester Research's 2007 worldwide PC adoption forecast, "There will be more than a billion PCs in use by the end of 2008 and more than two billion by 2015 - a 12.3% compound annual growth rate." With that kind of explosive growth in the computer sector, it's clear that the IT administrator's scope of responsibility is going to change dramatically.

When you hire an IT administrator you don't want someone who just knows how to log into a Windows box, find his way around, and get little things to work. You want someone who understands the big picture, who can grasp the importance of the 200 or 2,000 computers in use at your company and how they all operate together, and can manage them as a fleet. That's the Infrastructure as a Service model.

When administrators can manage five to 10 times the number of devices they're managing today, it might sound like a fast track to downsizing, but the real equation is the availability of trained staff in today's IT market, and how best to utilize their talents. As we know, there's a shortage of IT skills, so what companies need is a weapon that will enable them to recruit and retain good people. Since we can't educate new people fast enough, there's also a need for professionals who understand how to do more with less.
IaaS is the enabler.

At some point in their careers, IT people realize that they can only exert their influence or philosophy on things they can touch directly. Without a disruptive change, such as scripting or data center automation, their touch is their limitation. The administrators of tomorrow will need to understand how to manage hundreds or even thousands of devices. IaaS doesn't take away responsibility, but adds a strategic dimension to the job of IT, making managers more marketable, because they're now accustomed to working at a higher level.

The idea of a one-server-to-one-administrator model is gone. The only people likely to be threatened by this concept are those who are comfortable with their limitations.

Weapon 2: It Gets Aligned with the Core Business
Every executive wishes IT would be better aligned with and able to support the core business strategy. Today's businesses realize that IT isn't just a tool to help, but is a critical part of day-to-day operations and frequently instrumental in delivering the end product. With e-commerce, B2B portals, EDI, IP phone systems, and even e-mail, today's applications are fully integrated into the business, so it's critical that they behave the way the business does.

The first step to business alignment is cost control. No additional IT dollars should be spent unless it makes a positive impact on revenue. With IaaS and its variable but predictable monthly costs, you can manage spending on a monthly instead of an annual basis.

IaaS enables a whole new and more transparent way of accounting for IT. Today, IT is one line item. You know what you spend on all of your servers, all of the labor to maintain those servers, all of the power, and so on. You tote it up and allocate it by business unit. In the IaaS model, precise usage and costs are transparent down to the resource level - blade servers, operating systems, storage.

Because these resources are modular and transparent, IT can begin to tie utilization more closely to the bill that each business unit receives. This creates a closer link between what the business unit spends and the "service" it gets. Once that link is established, IT can begin to change business unit behavior away from "all-you-can-eat" to prioritization and cost/benefit.

More Stories By Pat O'Day

Pat O’Day is CTO and co-founder of Bluelock, a certified VMware vCloud Datacenter provider of Virtual Datacenters hosted in the public cloud, and is responsible for commercializing and making the company’s Infrastructure-as-as-Service (IaaS) model a business reality. With almost 20 years of IT infrastructure experience, he holds countless certifications and serves as a technical advisor and conference speaker for industry-leading technology companies including IBM, VMware, F5, Shavlik and LeftHand Networks. He is also the co-founder and former president of the local Association of Internet Professionals and a former board member of the technology peer group for TechPoint, Indiana’s only statewide information technology association.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Nicolas Fierro is CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. He is a programmer, technologist, and operations dev who has worked with Ethereum and blockchain since 2014. His knowledge in blockchain dates to when he performed dev ops services to the Ethereum Foundation as one the privileged few developers to work with the original core team in Switzerland.
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
Whenever a new technology hits the high points of hype, everyone starts talking about it like it will solve all their business problems. Blockchain is one of those technologies. According to Gartner's latest report on the hype cycle of emerging technologies, blockchain has just passed the peak of their hype cycle curve. If you read the news articles about it, one would think it has taken over the technology world. No disruptive technology is without its challenges and potential impediments t...
If a machine can invent, does this mean the end of the patent system as we know it? The patent system, both in the US and Europe, allows companies to protect their inventions and helps foster innovation. However, Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be set to disrupt the patent system as we know it. This talk will examine how AI may change the patent landscape in the years to come. Furthermore, ways in which companies can best protect their AI related inventions will be examined from both a US and...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Bill Schmarzo, Tech Chair of "Big Data | Analytics" of upcoming CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York (November 12-13, 2018, New York City) today announced the outline and schedule of the track. "The track has been designed in experience/degree order," said Schmarzo. "So, that folks who attend the entire track can leave the conference with some of the skills necessary to get their work done when they get back to their offices. It actually ties back to some work that I'm doing at the University of San...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...